“I am His younger brother, Lakshmana by name. Due to His transcendental qualities, I have taken up service to Him, as He is grateful and very knowledgeable.” (Lakshmana speaking to Hanuman about Rama, Valmiki Ramayana, Kishkindha Kand, 4.12)
अहमस्यावरो भ्राता गुणैर्दास्यमुपागतः
कृतज्ञस्य बहुज्ञस्य लक्ष्मणो नाम नामतः
ahamasyāvaro bhrātā guṇairdāsyamupāgataḥ
kṛtajñasya bahujñasya lakṣmaṇo nāma nāmataḥ
Goswami Tulsidas has many reasons for recommending pure devotional service, bhakti-yoga, to the Supreme Lord in the avatara of Shri Rama. There is enough justification to fill volumes upon volumes of sacred texts, beautifully composed in poetry-style in Sanskrit derived languages.
One inspiration for further study is gratefulness. The tendency of the human being is to forget; part of the greater defect of committing mistakes. It is simply impossible to remember everything. At the very least, we should keep in mind good work done in our favor, but even in this area we fall short.
1. Putting out a fire at work
“The server was out of space. It is not my responsibility to plan the physical infrastructure. I manage the coding changes, the reporting, and any other areas of logical flow for the business application. Yet no one was interested in fixing this problem. If left alone, the entire application would have eventually crashed, leaving the paying end users frustrated, angry and looking elsewhere to spend their money.
“I decided to step in and fix the problem, to the best of my ability. It is not a long-term solution, but this was something like putting out a fire. I got the job done.
“My reward? The next day, the boss is yelling at me for not having completed something he asked for a week ago. There is no appreciation for having saved the company. At this point, why bother caring?”
2. Picking up dinner
“What a long day at work. It’s partly my fault. If I eat healthier during lunch, then I am not so tired upon returning home. The issue is that without something to look forward to, the day seems to drag on. It’s a tradeoff between energy right now or later on. I enjoy stepping outside of the office for a little bit in the middle of the day.
“When I got home, the wife asked me to pick up dinner from outside. It’s a short walk to the restaurant, but I wasn’t feeling up to it. I went ahead, anyway, since there were no other viable options for eating.
“Later on in the night, I got chided for not having picked up necessary items from the supermarket. Milk. Bananas. Cereal. These were all finished at home. I should have noticed, I was told, but I was at work the entire day. My other sacrifices are not appreciated.”
3. Driving on a road trip
“I don’t know what it is, but I hate driving with other people in the car. I am not as carefree and relaxed. Otherwise, I have no issues with driving, even for long distances. With this upcoming trip, I was the only option available. Others were either uncomfortable with the idea of stepping behind the wheel or they are not sufficiently trained.
“A person should make sacrifices for their family and friends. I did so this time, but it was extremely stressful. I got criticized for choosing the road that had too much traffic. I was told to slow down several times and speed up in other situations. The rest stops were not to the passengers’ liking, and upon finally reaching the destination everyone complained about how stressful the trip was.”
In the Ramayana, Lakshmana at one time describes how the elder brother, Rama, is grateful. This is one of the reasons that Lakshmana and Sita follow Him. There is the dharma aspect, as well. The younger brother is anuja, or one who follows. Sita, the devoted wife, is like the shadow to the sun who happens to appear in the solar dynasty of kings.
While the human tendency has the fallibility of forgetfulness, Shri Rama remembers even a single act of kindness done in His favor. It is never forgotten. In this way, sukriti related to bhakti does not diminish. It is not like a credit acquired through fruitive activity that then subsequently gets used up.
Devotional activities such as chanting the holy names make the most sense: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. Rama can keep up with me, and He will remember everything I have done, even if at some later time I forget.
My efforts not forgetting,
Even if in illusion setting.
Lakshmana knowing how grateful,
Reason why he and Sita faithful.
By Tulsidas also recommended,
Tradition through parampara descended.
So impetus now for bhakti taking,
Rama note of my effort making.
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